“Green is the color of Money: The EU ETS failure as a model for the green economy” (link), the new report from Carbon Trade Watch, was launched during the second day of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The report reveals the role of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the largest carbon market in the world, as a roadmap to build new ‘nature’ markets.
New research reveals that the EU ETS has failed to reduce emissions while subsidizing polluters. The third phase of the EU ETS, due to start next year, will see the same pattern of subsidizing polluters (including airlines) and continue to use offsets as a way of evading emissions reductions, within the same financial markets that brought us the economic crisis.
The author of the report, Ricardo Coelho stated: “Carbon trading cannot deliver the necessary phase out of fossil fuels nor can it question the destructive over-production and consumption model that lies at the heart of industrialized countries’ economies. By diverting resources to where it is cheapest to reduce emissions, carbon trading prioritizes end-of-pipe solutions, in detriment of more ambitious and just policies, and actually makes the environmental and climate crisis worse.”
The controversial Rio text is expected to be agreed upon today with little opposition from Ministers at the Riocentro. However, yesterday on the streets groups marched with slogans, ‘No REDD’ and ‘We Reject the Green Economy’. While the text ‘reaffirms’ its committment to sustainable development and to implementing a ‘green economy’, it has been widely criticized for creating a roadmap towards commodifying ‘nature’ that will see a new push for privatizing water, forests, lands and ecosystems.
Joanna Cabello, from Carbon Trade Watch stated: “The EU continues to use carbon markets to transfer its environmental commitments to developing countries in the Global South and is pushing the EU ETS as a roadmap for environmental services markets here in Rio. Rio+20 is a smokescreen for big polluters.”
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The picture shows the forest fires in Colorado, which have now surpassed 100,000 acres. New Mexico is also dealing with a massive forest fire, which has burned more than 300,000 acres. All in the middle of a hot, hot summer.
Coincidence? Not a chance. Amanda Staudt, Senior Scientist at the National Wildlife Federation explains why (Climate Progress).
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According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), sea ice melting in the Artic reached a new high this year. Also, data from the University of Washington suggest that the volume of sea ice in the Artic is the smallest ever calculated for this time of the year (Guardian).
The melting of sea ice has already opened up the “northern sea route”, linking China and Japan to Europe through the north of Russia. It has also provoked a rush for oil, as Russian, European and US oil companies plan to expand to new areas in the Artic. Yes, this includes the self-proclaimed “climate leader”, Norway, which plans to open up 86 new offshore oil platforms in the future.
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The report (link) was issued by Carbon Trade Watch and explores how carbon trading in the EU incentivizes dirty biomass energy. From the description:
Earlier this month Brazilian pulp and paper giant Suzano Papel e Celulose gained approval for the world’s most advanced trial of genetically modified (GM) trees to meet the global demands of biomass energy expansion. The new report from Carbon Trade Watch, “Nothing Neutral Here: Large-scale biomass subsidies in the UK and the role of the EU ETS”, raises critical concerns over the UK’s unprecedented plans to increase biomass consumption as part of efforts to promote a ‘green economy’. The report links the demand for biomass in the UK, the role of the EU’s Emissions Trading System and the destructive expansion of industrial monoculture tree plantations around the world.
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Beating Goliath is a report from The Democracy Center on struggles against polluting companies (PDF). Gathering case-studies from all over the world, it shows how communities and movements can successfully face big companies and force them to consider their legitimate interests. The report then provides links to useful resources and lists current struggles against climate change which target corporations.
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A selection of articles on climate justice.
Simon Butler on green consumerism:
Most environmentalists would agree consumerism and consumer culture put too heavy a burden on the planet. Consumer spending is central to the capitalist economy, which is why economists and governments also pay it close attention. But most mainstream economists say endless economic growth, which implies limitless consumption, is both possible and desirable. This ignores how it helps fuel our ecological problems. (Links)
An interview with Larry Lohmann, from The Corner House, on carbon trading:
The genius of carbon markets is to create a new asset class that performs alongside, and reinforces, continued fossil fuel use, rather than interfering with it. (Ecosocialism Canada)
Rachel Smolker, from BiofuelWatch, exposes how “climate smart agriculture” contributes to the commodification of nature:
Climate smart agriculture will put a dollar value on the carbon in African dirt, so it can be bought and sold on the markets, and polluters can then buy dirt offsets that will allow them to continue to pollute! There will be a LOT to buy and sell, since there is so much dirt. (Climate Connections)
An interesting article by Julio Godoy, on IPS, on how global trade messes up the “numbers game” on emissions by country:
According to official figures, the European Union member countries have successfully reduced their emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), especially of carbon dioxide (CO2), by more than 15 percent since 1990, thus more than fulfilling their commitments under the Kyoto protocol.
However, these figures only consider the emissions from industrial and other domestic economic activities, ignoring considerations such as the EU’s consumption of imports from pollution-heavy, rising economies like the People’s Republic of China, South Africa, India, and Brazil. (IPS News)
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